What is Mold?
Molds are the digesters and recyclers of almost any organic material. It can grow almost anywhere, and requires moisture, oxygen and a food source to survive. Mold spreads by producing spores which disperse and start new colonies. These organisms are extremely durable and adaptable, and can survive in the harshest conditions. Molds are genetically adaptable, evolving to favor the conditions. When conditions are right, mold populations can explode. They will then continue to grow and reproduce until they have used up the entire food source.
How Can I Tell if I Have Mold?
Mold is a growing health problem in local homes and businesses. In fact, in a 1994 Harvard School of Public Health Study, nearly half of the homes studied had mold.
Molds can grow anywhere when the conditions are right. Mold spores are present in every environment and simply wait until the conditions are favorable. Oxygen-rich environments with either standing liquids or humidity levels over 70% are optimal for mold growth. Moisture is the key element in mold control and must be eliminated before mold growth will stop. Colonies will grow on any food source which can include wood, paper, carpet, drywall and household items.
Mold often grows as a result of high humidity, water infiltration, flooding, leaky roofs, leaky doors and windows, sewer backflows, plumbing leaks or many other causes. Once a surface becomes damp or wet, it becomes a prime target for mold growth. When mold growth is not visible, it can often be detected by a musty odor. If mold is visible, you have a potentially serious problem. Once a colony has been established, it will continue to grow and expand until the food source is eliminated.
Date from the American Society of Cleaning and Restoration Contractors (ASCAR) advises that mold spores are microscopic and if a mold colony begins to grow and become visible, that the actual number of mold spores present is likely to be more than 10 times greater than the quantity of mold spores than are actually present. An area of less than one square foot can contain more than 850,000 mold spores.
If you or a member of your family are having respiratory problems, you may have mold. Symptoms can include nasal congestion, coughing, wheezing, sore throat, asthma and rhinitis. Mold can contribute to many illnesses including allergies, asthma, hypersensitive pneumonia, humidifier fever, infections and mycotoxicosis. If your symptoms improve after you leave home or work, it is very likely that you have mold. Depending upon the serious of the mold problem and the symptoms that you are encountering, it may take several weeks, or longer, for the symptoms to subside.